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Late for Work: Many Pundits Call Ravens the Best Team in the NFL

OLB Kyle Van Noy
OLB Kyle Van Noy

Ravens Called the Best Team in the NFL After Blowing Out Seahawks

For the second time, the Ravens dismantled a division-leading opponent in a blowout win. And with Baltimore's 37-3 win over the Seattle Seahawks, the majority of pundits believe the Ravens are the best team in the NFL.

**NFL Research:** "The Ravens are 3-0 in 2023 versus teams that entered the game with a winning record. Week 4 at Cleveland (28-3), Week 7 versus Detroit (38-6), Week 9 versus Seattle (37-3). The Ravens did not trail in any of those games."

ESPN’s Dan Graziano: "Right now, taking into account both sides of the ball, the Ravens are playing better football than anyone in the entire league. And as long as they can keep their quarterback healthy, there's no reason to expect that to stop anytime soon."

The Baltimore Sun’s Childs Walker: "The Ravens have now trampled two NFL contenders in a span of three weeks. As they prepare for a pair of crucial AFC North games, they're looking more and more like a Super Bowl contender."

Baltimore Beatdown’s Dustin Cox: "Baltimore's defense continues to suffocate opponents and is proving to be a Super-Bowl caliber unit. The rushing attack once again carried the offense, highlighted by the breakout performance of speedy undrafted rookie running back Keaton Mitchell. The Ravens winning in this fashion without quarterback Lamar Jackson having to do too much should be terrifying for the rest of the NFL."

There are still some holdouts, however, who believe the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals are right beside Baltimore.

The Athletic's Mike Jones: "But Kansas City's offense isn't clicking like Baltimore's is right now. Buffalo is up and down. So, Baltimore has the edge on both of those two from a consistency standpoint. We'll see how things play out when Baltimore and Cincinnati square off in two weeks."

The Athletic's Ted Nguyen: "The Chiefs are still the best team in the AFC, in my opinion, but the Ravens are close. The Ravens have been continuously trending upward all season and they have dominating wins against good teams. Jackson is playing the best ball of his career under offensive coordinator Todd Monken, and Mike Macdonald might be the best defensive coordinator in the league right now. They are a well-coached team with talent and depth at every position led by an MVP-worthy quarterback."

Ravens Defense Has "Proven They Can Shut Down Anyone"

The Ravens defense isn't beating up on low-tier offenses or surviving against the best in the NFL. Rather, they're attacking top-10 offenses and with it, they're the ones controlling the tempo of the game. On Sunday, the Ravens defense further proved its "realness," and the NFL-world took notice.’s Kevin Patra: "Two weeks after shellacking the Detroit Lions at home, the Ravens destroyed the NFC West-leading Seahawks. Baltimore's defense dominated the line of scrimmage, stuffing Seattle's run game and discombobulating Geno Smith on nearly every dropback. Baltimore generated pressure on 54.5% of Smith's dropbacks, holding the QB to 5 of 13 for 29 yards and an INT when under pressure, per Next Gen Stats. The Ravens earned four sacks and forced two turnovers. Kyle Van Noy has been a big midseason pickup, sacking Smith on back-to-back plays late in the second quarter, including a strip-sack. Baltimore's D comes in waves, and the exotic pressure packages make life miserable for opponents. The Ravens have proven they can shut down anyone."

ESPN’s Graziano: "Baltimore has played three teams this season that entered the game with a winning record, and not only has it beaten all three, but it has done so by a combined score of 103-12. For the season, Baltimore is allowing 13.8 points per game. The last time the Ravens were this stingy in their first nine games was 2000 – when they went on to win the Super Bowl."

ESPN’s Jamison Hensley: "Defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald has Baltimore attacking from all angles. Baltimore finished with more sacks (four) than points given up, and defensive tackle Justin Madubuike now has 7.5 sacks, setting a team record with at least a half-sack in six straight games. Safety Geno Stone made his NFL-leading sixth interception."

PFF’s Gordon McGuinness: "Baltimore's schemed pass rush was ferocious again, with Justin Madubuike and Odafe Oweh registering a sack each, Kyle Van Noy securing two and forcing a fumble, and Travis Jones, Michael Pierce and Jadeveon Clowney combining for four batted passes."

The Baltimore Sun’s Brian Wacker: "The Ravens defense is the best in the NFL. The metrics say it and so do the results."

Pressbox’s Bo Smolka: "Through nine games, Van Noy (5) and Clowney (3.5) have a combined total of 8.5 sacks; Van Noy is second on the team behind Justin Madubuike, who has 7.5, including another one in this game. After signing with the Ravens, Van Noy and Clowney each said they felt they still had more to give, and something to prove, and they are doing that with the Ravens. And both appear to be having fun again, re-energized in Baltimore."

Russell Street Report’s Kevin McNelis: "This one was a romp. Baltimore's defense looks stronger every week, and Mike [Macdonald's] blitz packages made pass protection a nightmare for Seattle today. There were drives that looked like the Ravens had extra guys on the field because of how much pressure got through the line. When they're clicking like this, it's going to be tough for anyone to go toe-to-toe with them."

Ravens' Mighty Rushing Attack Adds New Dimension

In 2019, the Ravens boasted a three-headed rushing attack led by Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram II and Gus Edwards. Four years later, a new rushing attack has emerged in the backfield, with Edwards, Justice Hill and quite possibly undrafted rookie Keaton Mitchell. And, of course, still Jackson.

"World, say hello to undrafted rookie Keaton Mitchell. The back hadn't taken a carry all season, but Mitchell announced his presence, blasting off for 138 yards on nine attempts, including a 40-yard touchdown and 60-yard scamper,"’s Kevin Patra wrote. "The rookie displayed good burst on the second level and the ability to run through arm tackles. Mitchell adds another dimension to a Ravens offense that has lacked consistency out of the backfield."

While Mitchell was the exciting star of the show, Edwards continued his season of bully-ball, marching into the end zone and setting a new career best with seven rushing touchdowns in a single season. Five have come in the past two weeks, and all five have been in red-zone situations where the rushing attack dominates the opposing front. Edwards also gashed the Seahawks for 42 yards on the opening carry of the second half on Sunday.

The AFC North Hasn't Quit

The Ravens are on a brilliant four-game winning streak, with excellent wins over quality opponents. But their win streak hasn't done much to separate them from the rest of the AFC North. Instead, all four teams boast a winning record and are in playoff position.

"The Ravens have won four in a row, but they haven't been able to gain much separation in the AFC North, which has an American League East flavor to it, with every team sporting a winning record," wrote Smolka.

It appears the only way to separate in the AFC North is to play each other, which is good news for the Ravens as their next two games are at home against the Browns and Bengals.  

"The games all count, but the next two, at home, feel like they will count just a little bit more," wrote Smolka.

Patrick Ricard Fine Gains National Reaction

On Saturday, it was announced that fullback Patrick Ricard would be fined $21,694 for unnecessary roughness against the Arizona Cardinals. But after film was posted of the play by The Baltimore Banner's Jonas Shaffer, a national outcry of players and media figures criticized the NFL for the bizarre decision, including NBC Sports' Peter King.

"I think this is absurd. Patrick Ricard fined $21,694 for playing football," King wrote. "Seriously: Who is making these idiotic rulings on the fines for normal football plays?"

Ricard spoke to media on Sunday following the game and announced he will be appealing the fine.

"Just gonna plead my case," Ricard said to The Baltimore Banner's Paul Mancano. "I don't think I should be fined. I think it should be reduced or taken away. It wasn't blatant; it wasn't ridiculous. It wasn't like the crown of my helmet [went] right into the guy. But it is what it is."

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